Renewables Are Lowering Price of Electricity For All in Ohio

Contrary to “conventional wisdom” renewable energy is causing downward price pressure on Ohio wholesale markets


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has recently released a report that concludes that the addition of large scale renewable energy is having the effect of causing price suppression. For people who pay electric bills price suppression is a good thing.

Since renewable are a no-cost addition to the grid, once installed, they are called upon first to deliver electricity. This lowers the overall wholesale rate of electricity delivered into Ohio.

From the report:

Price suppression is a widely recognized phenomenon by which renewable resources produce lower wholesale market clearing prices. The economic theory that drives price suppression is
actually quite simple. Renewable resources such as solar and wind are essentially zero marginal cost generators, as their “fuel” costs (sunlight and wind) are free. As such, they will always be dispatched first by the grid operator, thereby displacing units with higher operating costs. This
results in lower wholesale market clearing prices than would have been experienced in the absence of the renewable resources.
— Public Utilities Commision of Ohio

The report goes on to say that there are no issues with grid integration of these technologies in Ohio.

No severe congestion issues or emergency curtailments were observed, even after incorporating all approved projects, which suggests that the electric grid in Ohio is sufficiently robust to support the continued development of utility-scale renewable projects.

— Public Utilities Commision of Ohio

The other compelling thing about this report is that the PUCO is not a biased party.

Largest Roof Municipal Solar Array in Ohio Generating Power for the City of Columbus

 Tipping Point CEO Eric Zimmer in front of a small part of the City of Columbus Fleet Maintenance Building solar array

Tipping Point CEO Eric Zimmer in front of a small part of the City of Columbus Fleet Maintenance Building solar array

Tipping Point Renewble Energy is proud to have been instrumental in bringing to fruition  the solar array on the Columbus Division of Fleet Managment's Fleet Maintenance Building on Groves Road.  The array consist of 2,650 solar panels that will produce almost half of the building's electricity needs.

Tipping Point was the original developer of the project which is now owned by General Energy Solutions.  GES, owns and operates the system, and sells electricity to the City at a rate lower than their current electricity costs.   

Link to City Press Release

Link to Live Feed 


TPRE CEO Eric Zimmer Touts Clean Energy Jobs at Energy Conference

Tipping Point CEO Eric Zimmer spoke at the Northern Ohio Energy Management Conference on September 26th on behalf of the Advanced Energy Economy Ohio and Tipping Point. In his comments, Zimmer defended the state requirement that electric utilities secure a small amount of their electricity from renewable energy.

 Like most discussions on energy in Ohio over the past year, the focus of the meeting was on the future of shale gas resources that have been under intensive  development in Ohio.    Among all the hoopla over shale gas, the conference did  consider a number of issues related to electricity prices in a panel on which Zimmer participated.

According to the article by the Cleveland Plain Dealer,

Eric Zimmer, with the Advanced Energy Economy, a group advocating both renewable and advanced energy technologies, said new competitive suppliers coming into the state are looking to bundle renewable energy with other, more traditional sources of power.
Zimmer argued that energy efficiency is still the cheapest energy option "that can only make us stronger." And energy efficiency mandates create jobs, he said.
"Secondly, right now there are 25,000 jobs in the Ohio economy involved with energy efficiency," he argued.  Cleveland Plain Dealer

For more information on Ohio's advanced energy requirements or to learn more about saving money and controlling energy expenses with renewable energy, contact Tipping Point.

Solar PV Is Good Business

Even while solar energy continues to be tossed around as a political football, some of the smartest businesses in America are voting with their dollars and making substantial investments in solar photovoltaic systems.  

Last week, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released Solar Means Business: Top Commercial Solar Customers in the U.S .  The report details  investments being made by companies around the country:

The rapidly falling cost of solar energy has made solar an increasingly appealing investment for American businesses.  Between the second quarter of 2011 and the second quareter of 2012, the average price of a completed commercial PV system fell by nearly 14 percent.  The economics of PV have become so attractive that many of the best managed corporations, which are synonymous with low cost and efficiency, are adopting solar energy on a massive scale across the U.S. Solar Means Business: Top Commercial Solar Customers in the U.S. Link

SEIA has also provided a "heat map" of commercial solar installations in the U.S.

 Heat Map of Commercial Solar Installation in the U.S. Click on the map to be taken to SEIA's interactive map.

Heat Map of Commercial Solar Installation in the U.S. Click on the map to be taken to SEIA's interactive map.

Here are the top 20:

  1. Walmart
  2. Costco
  3. Kohl’s Department Stores
  4. IKEA
  5. Macy’s
  6. McGraw-Hill
  7. Johnson & Johnson
  8. Staples, Inc.
  9. Campbell’s Soup
  10. Walgreens
  11. Bed, Bath & Beyond
  12. Toys ‘R’ Us
  13. General Motors
  14. FedEx
  15. White Rose Foods
  16. Dow Jones
  17. Snyder’s of Hanover
  18. ProLogis
  19. Hartz Mountain Industries
  20. Crayola

For more information about how solar PV can benefit your company, contact us.

AEP's Electric Security Plan Approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

The Pubilic Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved a modified version of AEP Ohio's Electric Security Plan (ESP) on August 8, 2012.  The revised plan establishes generation rates through May 31, 2015 and sets AEP on a path toward a separating it's generation business from distribution and transmission.Shutterstock 42410560

“We are confident that this modified ESP will result in the outcome the General Assembly intended under both Senate Bill 3 and Senate Bill 221, and best represents a balance in the interests of both consumers and AEP-Ohio,” said PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler. “Today’s order leads us towards more robust competition in the state of Ohio in less than three years. It also provides mechanisms for consumer protection, and maintains that AEP-Ohio continues to provide adequate, safe, and reliable service to its customers.” (PUCO Press Release)

In response to the PUCO decision, AEP filed revised tariff sheets (the official documents that detail rates charged to customers) on August 16, 2012.  In filing the 382 page document, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer Pablo Vegas said, "“We have worked hard to minimize bill impacts on customers as we transition to a competitive market model. Customers will benefit during this transition by having fixed generation rates and a greater ability to shop for a competitive price on their power generation service, and by having AEP Ohio take part in energy supply auctions.”  (AEP Press Release)

The decision will have broad implications for ratepayers in AEP Ohio's service territory.  Virtually all classes or ratepayers will see some increase in rates -- some more than others.  In addition, changes in incentives for shopping retail generation services and rate structures may mean that a change in energy acquisition and/or management practices could minimize the financial impact this decision could have on AEP customers.

Tipping Point Energy is currently analyzing the new plan and is prepared to work with AEP Ohio customers to understand their new tariff structures and opportunities to effectively manage their energy expenses.

TechColumbus Names Tipping Point as Semi-Finalist for 2011 Innovation Award

Tipping Point Renewable Energy is proud to be named as a semi-finalist for the TechColumbus 2011 Innovation Award in the category of Green Innovation.  

According to the TechColumbus website:

The TechColumbus Innovation Awards celebrate and honor individuals and teams in a variety of disciplines. Each award category is an important component of the technology and innovation community. Receiving the top honor in an award category showcases the dramatic impact of the awardee’s contributions in Central Ohio and beyond. (Link)

The Green Innovation award is for a company that has EITHER: Developed a Green product or service that is commercially available and in production, and is in use with at least one customer/client; OR Applied or implemented a technology or process change that has a net positive impact on the environment.

The final award winners will be announced at the Innovation Awards dinner on February 2, 2012 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center - Battelle Grand Ballroom.  More information on the awards dinner is available at the Innovation Awards' website.

Tipping Point CEO Zimmer Expresses Support for Ohio Renewable Energy Standards

On September 20 and 21, 2011, Ohio Governor John Kasich hosted an energy summit to discuss the importance of energy in Ohio.  Among the many subjects covered was one near and dear to our hearts, the state's Clean Energy Standard, which requires a certain percentage of electricity in the state to come from clean energy sources, including solar energy.

As the Governor and his cabinet consider the many policy recommendations that were presented at the summit, Tipping Point would like to bring to your attention this article, which appeared on National Public Radio affiliates around the state. In the article, our CEO Eric Zimmer, expresses why we believe the CES is important for Ohio jobs and the economy:

CEO Eric Zimmer says erasing the mandates now would be a job killer. “What we need is stability. And so, bills that are thrown out willy-nilly like this that question that really put a freeze on that market. We have had challenges with our investors who we’ve been working on for close to a year now saying, ‘what’s with this bill?’ If Senate Bill 221, the renewable portion was repealed, it would absolutely kill jobs in Ohio. It would drive away a lot of jobs.”

Click here for the whole article (including a link to listen to the story).

Solar panels to save $1,000 per month

Tipping Point Renewable Energy is please to announce the commissioning of a 47.84 KWe solar photovoltaic installation for Wepuko Pahnke Engineering LP in Springfield, Ohio.

According to Springfield based Wepuko Pahnke Engineering LLC it used a federal grant to help complete a solar panel system that could save the business close to $1,000 a month in energy costs. The manufacturers of pumps and presses finished building a solar panel array of about 200 panels that could generate almost 56,700 kilowatts a year to power its operations on Urbana Road.

The Springfield News-Sun reported on the story:

Wepuko Pahnke office manager Kelly Eichelberger said “Last week, contractors were here doing the final prep work for the system panels to track the usage of the electricity. The electrician was here and they were getting the actual final inspection. We are approved and up and running.”

The 50 kilowatt panels will provide energy for Wepuko Pahnke’s four buildings and remaining power will be sold back to their electric company, First Energy, or sold as energy through Ohio’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificates program.

Eichelberger said that Wepuko Pahnke could end up earning $21,542 on average a year from selling excess energy, based on a sales rate of 38 cents per kilowatt last week. The price of energy fluctuates daily, much like the stock market. This project has been ongoing since 2010.

He also added that “We’ve been working on this project for about a year but we couldn’t finalize it because we didn’t get any more state grants, we got a federal grant instead.”

The grant, for $65,285, will be reimbursed to the company within 60 days of the final payment for the project. The entire project, which cost $217,000, was conducted by Tipping Point Renewable Energy, based in Dublin, Ohio.

Tipping Point CEO  Eric Zimmer said “Solar energy works today in Ohio, and Wepuko shows that a company can install solar energy and do it for economic reasons, has a good pay back, they’re saving money, being green and helping provide jobs for unemployed vets.”

Zimmer  also said that Tipping Point installed the solar array as part of their Solar for Soldiers program, where they train unemployed veterans – five veterans worked on the Wepuko Pahnke project – to install solar panels as a way to provide a career path for them.

News Story from Ohio News Network on Solar By Soldiers

The Ohio News Network ran an excellent story about Senator Sherrod Brown's press conference at the kick off of Tipping Point Renewable Energy's Solar By Soldiers program. It's a bit (actually more than a bit) awkward to embed the actual video here, so follow this link to open their video player. Here's a link to the accompanying story.

Solar By Soldiers Program Launched at Press Conference with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown

Columbus, Ohio -- (August 8, 2011) --  Following is the text of the statement made by Tipping Point Renewable Energy Founder / CEO Eric Zimmer at the press conference with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the owner of the Flannagan’s of Dublin, David Straub at the launch of Tipping Point’s Solar By Soldiers© program.

Thank you Senator Brown.  

Today, we are officially launching a program that is near and dear to our hearts here at Tipping Point.  

When Tipping Point was founded just two years ago, we had a goal to improve our communities by using renewable energy. One of the things we have done is to make a commitment that we will use veterans to carry out our projects whenever possible.  

We want to make sure that as our veterans return home they are able to find good work in a growing field. We passionately feel, as Senator Brown does, that these heroes should not be worrying about where they are going to work and how they are going to feed their families after serving our country. 

With that in mind, we created the Solar by Soldiers program to formalize our commitment and to provide a framework within which we will provide training in green energy job skills to veterans, not just for our projects, but for the clean energy industry throughout Ohio.

Solar is currently the fastest growing industry in the United States. In tough economic times clean energy is a way to create jobs in both manufacturing and installation of these important technologies. Continued federal and state investment is key to this growth. I want to thank the federal government and the State of Ohio for investments they have made in clean energy in the past and urge them to consider extending and enhancing those programs.

We have over 20 million dollars worth of projects right here in central Ohio that we are working to launch to help create more jobs for these very worthy heroes.

I especially commend Senator Brown for his support of the Hiring Heroes Act to ensure that veterans are ready to re-enter the job market after their service. Also, his legislation to expand and improve the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit will help to continue the trend toward grid parity for solar energy.

I’d like to thank David Straub and Flannagan’s for making this all possible by making the commitment to using clean, safe solar energy to power his business.  David can tell you this for himself, but he made the decision to proceed with the project because solar energy does work in Ohio.  This project makes good economic sense in addition to benefitting the environment and the veterans involved in its construction.  

The solar array that you are looking at today will be generate about half of the annual electric requirements of Flannagan’s. Once the initial investment for this project is recovered in a few short years, the solar array will generate about half of Flannagan’s electricity for free for the next 25 or 30 years. Not only that, but the solar array will protect Flannagans from future electric rate increases that will inevitably come.

Finally, Id like to thank Daniel Hutchinson with Ohio Combat Veterans.  Daniel worked closely with us in the early stages of the Solar by Soldiers program to develop the vision for our program.  Although he couldn’t be here today, we thank him for his efforts and look forward to working with him and his organization as we continue to grow the Solar by Soldiers program.

Now, I’d like to introduce David Straub, owner of Flannagan’s and our host today for a his comments.

For more information on Tipping Point Renewable Energy, the Solar by Soldiers Program, or the solar array at Flannagan’s of Dublin contact Will Kenworthy at 614-321-3335 or  Additional information is availble at Tipping Point’s website:

Work Underway at Flannagan's of Dublin

We are nearing completion of what will be one of the most innovative solar arrays in Ohio at Flannagan's of Dublin.  If you get a chance to drive by and check out the custom canopy above the deck overlooking the volleyball courts you will appreciate the careful planning and attention to detail that this project requires.

Here is a link to the Flannagan's website where they detail more about how their solar array is part of an overall recycling and money saving conservation program that they are developing. 

Columbus CEO Magazine Article on Renewable Energy

Columbus CEO Magazine recently did a feature article on renewable energy in Central Ohio.  Tipping Point CEO Eric Zimmer was quoted several times throughout the article, including this nugget:

The bigger challenge: "We have very low [conventional] power costs here," lessening the incentive to seek other sources, says Eric Zimmer, CEO of Dublin-based Tipping Point Renewable Energy.

Cost also hampers adoption: Not everyone can afford a solar array. Third-party agreements are a popular option, especially for entities such as school districts and government that may lack the upfront capital and don't get the tax benefits to make renewable projects affordable. Under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), a developer pays to purchase, operate and maintain the system on property owned by a business, school or government. The host typically agrees to buy the system's energy output, generally at a discount over conventional utilities. Tax credits and RECs may be used by the developer to defray the system's cost.

Zimmer says government and schools are particularly well-suited to participation in PPAs. "They plan long term, they know the buildings are going to be there for the long term, they have good credit," he says.

Check out the full article for a really well-done summary of where we stand now.

Not New, But New To Me: DP&L Info Page on Yankee Road Solar Array

Since large-scale solar is a fairly new phenomenon in Ohio, we spend a lot of time helping clients and potential clients to understand what a solar array looks like and feels like. After all, the decision to install a solar array means a decision to live with it for quite some time.

We happen to think that a solar array is a beautiful thing, even aesthetically. In addition, it's a badge of honor to make a statement about a community's values and (for our customers at least) commitment to saving money for their stakeholders.

Anyway, I was preparing some information for a client on what a solar array looks like and came across this page on Dayton Power & Light's website about their Yankee Road Solar Array.

I haven't actually seen this before and was very impressed by the info that they have made available. The "Solar Array Construction Video" gives a great look into the construction process for their 1.1 Megawatt solar array.

Well done DP&L.